1981’s Flight to Victory is a sports film that doubles as a military epic. Directed by legendary American director John Huston, the film is based on the 1962 Hungarian film Two Halfs in Hell, itself based on the dubious “true” story of a World War II football match.
The story is this: Karl von Steiner (Max von Sydow) is a former football star and head of a German POW camp. He convinces one of his inmates, John Colby (Michael Caine), to lead a team of Allied prisoners in an exhibition game against the Nazis. Colby agrees, unaware that this is a propaganda move on the part of the Germans. Meanwhile, another prisoner of war, Robert Hatch (Sylvester Stallone), is planning a prison break and wants a team involved.
The film’s premise is somewhat ludicrous – it’s The Great Escape but mostly with football – but it has enough brilliant moments and Hollywood magic to make it worth watching. Sylvester Stallone in the World War II football movie is amazing enough, but it also features a lot of real footballers, including Bobby Moore, Oswaldo Ardiles, and even the great Pelé himself. This makes it a fairly unique sports movie since the game is actually played by many of the players themselves. It’s not John Huston’s best movie, nor is it the best World War II movie, but it’s definitely worth watching for the spectacle itself.
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